Allen Ginsberg’s class on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here
Student: I’d like to make a few (remarks on something) that’s been bothering me …
Student: … (I want) to get back to that (thing on) meter, it’s a very tiny point.
Student: On the basis of these lines, that people now think we should pronounce, at least in this book, “Yur-reason -“ Yur-is-son” – “Descend O Urizen descend..” instead of … and before, “Where Urizen & all his hosts.” It seems like Blake wouldn’t change his mind when he wrote these texts when he thought the pun of “Your-reason’….
AG: Well, is there any known spot in which Blake actually pronounces (it)? Is there any friend of Blake who heard him pronounce “Urizen” and commented (on it)?
Student: (there was) comment on it
Student: (especially) on this point, based on …
AG: Endless, huh?
Student: … his rewriting. I mean, after he started to write The Four Zoas, and in the other texts he was pronouncing “Yur-reason”
AG: Yeah, to keep it to seven.
Student: Like “horizon” almost or part of….
AG: “The Wandering/ Man/ bow’d/ his faint/ head/ and Yur-is-un/ descended” would make seven (beats).
Student: Yeah, and all the way through here, if you’ll notice.
AG: “Indignant/ muttering/ low/ thunders/ Urizen/ descended.” – But that’s six then. “Indignant muttering low thunders; Urizen descended.” The next line would only be six. So maybe it’s….
Student: Maybe it shifts, I don’t know.
Student: Either way you say it, you have three syllables, don’t you?
AG: Pardon me?
Student: Either way you say it you have the same number of syllables.
Student: But stress is different.
AG: Yeah, and you’d only have one major accent. I don’t know.
AG: I think it’s a very loose, a very unfettered meter. It has the seven as its base …
Student: Yeah,(I’ve already) said that.
AG: … but he varies it. He really does vary it. Because there’s a couple lines you can find: “To heal the wounds of his smiting.” And, after all, we’re just looking at a manuscript. This is just a manuscript, (which is here by the way, if you’re interested. I’ll leave this open on page twelve of the original manuscript). That’s all it is that we’re reading – this mess, this inchoate mess. It was never finally concluded, and some of the pages are out of order, to begin with. And one of the reasons it’s difficult to follow the plot is that the pages have been shuffled around and scholars have been trying to figure which is page twelve and which is page nineteen. Does page twenty-one follow after page twenty, or should page nineteen follow after page twenty-one? And Blake made a lot of scratchings over it so that…
Student: But it looked like….
AG: … an argument as to whether each exact line is… you can never just determine it by the manuscript because the manuscript is just a provisional writing up.
Student: Except that in the first book, you’ll notice, the script was much more …
Student: … formed, yeah. Later on it’s just like his first draft …
Student: … but here it’s as if he worked it over into a script that he might have engraved. (like it seems less tentative) to him.
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighty-six-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately eighty-nine-and-a-half minutes in